What Others Are Saying About the Inappropriately Named Center for Consumer Freedom

  The Public Face of Rick Berman
  Rick Berman’s History
  Quotes by Rick Berman and the Center for Consumer Freedom
  Quotes Regarding Rick Berman: Negative, Positive, and Incriminating
  Media Shreds Deceptive Nonprofit Group

  I Individuals Who Have Been Associated with Berman
  II Businesses That Have Been Associated With Berman
  III Contributions to Berman - Dollar Amounts by Company and Year
IV Organizations That Have Been Attacked by Berman
  V Documented Donations of $2,950,000 from Philip Morris to Rick Berman/CCF

Quotes Regarding Rick Berman: Negative, Positive, and Incriminating

“Rick Berman has set up a PR machine on behalf of the restaurant, tobacco, and alcohol industry that presents itself as a consumer protection group, tries to discredit any kind of investigation or legislation that might cut into industry profits, yells and screams about the allegedly shady funding behind “activist” groups, enjoys tax-exempt status as a non-profit organization, and pays its largest yearly fees into Rick Berman’s pockets."
—Nancy Goldstein, columnist for RawStoryQ
Read the full story.

“Berman’s a real bottom feeder.”
—Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) Executive Director Michael Jacobson

“The Center for Consumer Freedom has absolutely nothing to do with consumers, but it has everything to do with maximizing profits for major restaurant-and-bar chains.”
—CSPI Executive Director Michael Jacobson

“CCF is one of a shadowy trio of tax-exempt front groups run by Washington lobbyist Richard Berman.”
—CSPI’s Web site at CSPInet.org

“Notwithstanding the obvious contradictions and transparently self-serving nature of the arguments that Berman serves up, he has been successful in influencing Congress.”
—PRWatch.org, a Web site maintained by the Center for Media & Democracy

“The so-called Center for Consumer Freedom deceives the American people every day of the week by posing as a consumer group, when it’s really a front group that does PR dirty work for the restaurant and tavern [industries].”
—CSPI Executive Director Michael Jacobson

“CCF’s client companies want consumers—and their kids, evidently—to have less information about their food choices, not more. CCF is anti-parent, anti-kid, anti-health, and anti-truth. The restaurants that fund CCF should be ashamed.”
—CSPI Executive Director Michael Jacobson

“Anyone who criticizes tobacco, alcohol, fatty foods, or soda pop is likely to come under attack from Berman’s front groups.”
—PRWatch.org, a Web site maintained by the Center for Media & Democracy

“The conservative EPI, financed mostly by low-wage companies such as hotels and restaurants, is issuing reports the titles of which alone could help put a bright face on the miserable job scene.”
—Los Angeles Times Business Columnist Harry Bernstein, referring to EPI’s use of “misleading studies” to put a positive spin on rising unemployment in 1992

“It is hypocritical in the extreme, of course, for [CCF’s Web site] ActivistCash.com to ‘expose’ the funding of others, while keeping the details of its own finances hidden to conceal the fact that its funding comes from the very industries that share a vested interest in attacking activists.”
—Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber on PRWatch.org, a Web site maintained by the Center for Media & Democracy

“Does Berman live in a glass house? Is he running a shell game or self-dealing? Is moving the majority of donations from a non-profit [that] you run to a for-profit [that] you own what the IRS intended for non-profit status? It may all be perfectly legal, but there’s an Enron-esque feeling to it—and Berman is currently acting like he REALLY doesn’t want this information out there.”
—VegSource Interactive Inc. President Jeff Nelson

“[Even] a stopped clock is right twice a day.”
—VegSource Interactive Inc. President Jeff Nelson

“Rick, it’s my opinion that you are anti-parent as well as anti-consumer. You’re a lobbyist who’s been paid by the food, beverage and tobacco industries. When a school district or official tries to remove from school grounds a machine that dispenses high-sugar caffeinated beverages to children, you scream about ‘freedom.’ Apparently your view is [that] the freedom of your funders to sell these harmful products in the schools trumps the rights of parents who don’t want their children to consume them. You’re apparently unconcerned about the epidemic of type 2 diabetes among our nations’ children.”
—VegSource Interactive Inc. President Jeff Nelson

“Remember those ‘scientists’ the Tobacco Institute used to pay to run around saying there was no link between smoking and cancer? The studies you champion and promote often remind me of the dangerous nonsense they used to spout.”
—VegSource Interactive Inc. President Jeff Nelson

“… I find most of his business views anti-safety and anti-health. Indeed, he has been a one-man wrecking crew on important issues like 0.08.”
—National Safety Council Public Affairs Executive Director Chuck Hurley

“He is a tough opponent, but his criticisms often are sophomoric, crude, and simple-minded and sometimes undermine his credibility, although his clients certainly appreciate his efforts.”
—CSPI Executive Director Michael Jacobson

“Berman tries to paint things in a misleading fashion. He puts on a misleading front.
—Jeff Kerr, attorney for PETA

“It ought to call itself the Center for Corporate Freedom.
—Jeff Cronin, the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

“Berman … declines to confirm which companies donate to him or in what amounts.
—Paul Barton, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette


“The coalition [run by Berman and Company] is probably the best lobbying coalition in Washington.”
—Mark De Bernardo, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

“Rick takes an overwhelmingly complex situation and transforms it into a focused political game plan, quickly zeroing in on just the critical points. In short, he protects our interests to the hilt.”
—Norm Brinker, founder of Steak & Ale and Chili’s restaurant chains and former employer of Rick Berman

“I’ve debated a lot of management people, and Berman is by far the toughest one to reckon with. He is articulate, funny, dynamic, aggressive and polished—a real street fighter.”
—Richard Bensinger, labor union consultant

“I’ve worked with Rick for years, and indeed he is a lightning rod. People have strong feelings about him, but he helps the industry.”
—Lee Culpepper of the National Restaurant Association


“His proposed solution would broaden the focus of the ‘smoking issue,’ and expand into the bigger picture of over-regulation.”
—Summary of Berman’s approach taken from an internal Philip Morris memo from Barbara Trach to Ellen Merlo which notes that Berman came highly recommended by executives at Miller Beer Company. In 1995, Berman solicited $600,000 from Philip Morris U.S.A. to start Guest Choice Network (now the Center for Consumer Freedom).

“[The] difference in our style from traditional lobbyists [is] that we always have a knife in our teeth.”
—Rick Berman, taken from a 1999 interview with Charles Bernstein of Chain Leader, a trade publication for restaurant chains

“The fact is that [activists] drive consumer behavior on meat, alcohol, fat, sugar, tobacco and caffeine … Our offensive strategy is to shoot the messenger … [We've] got to attack their credibility as spokepersons.”
—Rick Berman in Chain Leader

“We can’t tell him what to do. He has to know what to do and what’s going on. We don’t want reportable activities. We can’t direct him … can’t tell him what to do … he needs to drive actions himself. No control on our end. Minimize written corresp.”
—Handwritten notes on Philip Morris interoffice memo from Barbara Trach to Ellen Merlo with the subject “Guest Choice Network” dated December 15, 1995. A $600,000 “donation” followed this memo.

“Specifically, we recommend that we establish a restaurant-driven program that connects instantly with restaurant operators. (Additional benefit—if externally perceived as driven by restaurant interests, there will be more flexibility and creativity allowed than if it is ‘owned’ by Philip Morris. The American Beverage institute, which opposes overly aggressive DWI laws, enjoys this profile.)”
—Rick Berman in a letter to Philip Morris dated September 5, 1995

“[Guest Choice] has other attributes as well. Its acceptance will be partially driven by the pre-selling of its identity. ‘Guest focus’ is a common mantra in the restaurant industry. ‘Choice’ is the positive operative word in many current contexts, e.g., abortion, health care. You immediately access the high road by being associated with ‘choice.’”
—Rick Berman in a letter to Philip Morris dated September 5, 1995

“[Guest Choice] has another big advantage over the [Accommodation Program]. It can be sold to industry operators as being potentially broader than smoking. Food and drink issues are continually being toyed with by government. GC therefore becomes easily understood as another ‘Government Choice vs. Guest Choice’ paradigm that taps into existing strongly held beliefs.”
—Rick Berman in a letter to Philip Morris dated September 5, 1995

Rick Berman's contact details:
Berman and Co.
1775 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W., Ste. 1200
Washington, DC 20006
Tel.: 202-463-7110
Fax: 202-463-7107
E-Mail: [email protected]